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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 2 Hansard (19 February) . . Page.. 340 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

It was my intention at that stage to do two things. One was to take legal advice from the ACT Government Solicitor on whether or not there was any aspect of the report or any issues around or pertaining to the report that were relevant to its tabling or release. Having quickly perused the report myself, I asked Mr Tonkin, in addition to his advice and in addition to obtaining advice of the ACT Government Solicitor, to make copies of the report available to a number of ACT public servants and ACT statutory office holders who had been adversely commented on in the report.

I did that as a reflection of my commitment to fairness. I felt that it was appropriate that anyone who was adversely named in reports such as that be made be aware of the potential or the prospect of their being featured in the media as a consequence of the way in which they were dealt with in the report. I was also conscious that the people who were named in that way were senior members of the ACT public service-in fact, the Community Advocate, the head of Community Care, a person involved in the delivery of disability services, a significant middle-ranking to senior officer of the Office of the Community Advocate and two extremely senior members of the department of health. These were all people I had had close working relationships with, as one would imagine, one of them being the head of Community Care and another being the head of the department of health. I felt it appropriate, out of my respect for procedural fairness and out of my respect for fair play, that those officers be made aware of what the report said in relation to them. I did that.

Those officers, so aggrieved were they by some of the findings of the board of inquiry and indeed some of the recommendations of the board of inquiry, sought legal advice and took legal action. The ACT Government Solicitor did represent me in those hearings. The hearings were a few days later, on Christmas Eve. I did have meetings with the ACT Government Solicitor, I think, on the Friday, which would have been the 21st, three days after receiving the report. He told me of action that was proposed to be taken, namely, an action by those officers who suggested that they had been denied natural justice, that they had been denied procedural fairness, seeking appropriate orders to that effect. In the context of that discussion, it was indicated that it may be that those officers would seek to injunct temporarily the release of the report.

I did not consent to that order. In fact, my instruction was that the ACT Government Solicitor not object to the granting of a temporary injunction. That indeed was the instruction I gave to the ACT Government Solicitor in those circumstances-that there be allowed to the officers with the sense of grievance an opportunity to prepare a response to the particular findings of the board of inquiry.

In doing that, in the context of the timing, there was not much deep thought given, I will admit, to the deep and complex constitutional issues of the powers of the court vis-a-vis the powers of the parliament-very interesting constitutional propositions we have seen aired and debated since. They continue to be conceptually very interesting issues-the extent to which the inherent powers of the court, when they come into contact with or meet the inherent powers of a parliament, give sway.

Certainly I am an advocate of the Westminster system. I always have been and will continue to be so. I am jealous of the overarching powers of the parliament and the right and the need for parliaments to be untrammelled to the extent that they represent the interests of the people and the public interest. I think everybody in this place knows my

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